Back local stores this Christmas

TODAY The East Anglian Daily Times is encouraging people to support their local shops this Christmas.

Naomi Cassidy

TODAY The East Anglian Daily Times is encouraging people to support their local shops this Christmas.

It has never been more vital to support our Shop Local campaign, as the festive season approaches, and the economy shows signs of improvement.

The popular campaign, which was launched last year, aims to highlight the importance of supporting independent businesses and traders in the face of the mounting challenge from chain stores and the internet.

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Businesses and campaigners from across the region are today backing us in our pledge to shop locally, thereby helping communities and local economy.

Rural campaigner Lady Caroline Cranbrook said: “Local shops are the heart of the local community. It is where people meet and talk so I think it has a huge social importance and a huge economic importance. Everything spent in local shops is re-circulated three times in that area. Shopkeepers will be supporting a whole network of other people, like builders, and suppliers.

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“I would say to people- go to your local shops and give it a go. There are tremendous advantages of shopping locally. I give my wholehearted support to this campaign and I admire the EADT for the way it has championed local businesses.”

Joan Hardingham, who co-owns Alder Carr Farm shop with her husband, Nick, said: “If people do not support local farming, then there would not be any farming in this country and everything would come in from abroad.

“I have just picked my own sprout sticks-you would not get those in supermarkets. We can provide a few unusual things that you might not find in supermarkets, like Jerusalem Artichokes and Christmas ice-cream. We try to source everything-either we have grown it ourselves or sourced it locally.”

Ian Collins, owner of Debenham Antiques Ltd, in Debenham, said: “Local shops provide customer service. People can come in and touch the product before they buy it. If you support local businesses, you support local jobs.”

James Stacey, director of O&C Butcher, a clothes shop in Aldeburgh, said: “Often we find that people will go to the bigger shops for Christmas gifts in November and the beginning of December. By mid-December people will often come back to us and find what they are looking for and cannot believe it was on their doorstep.”

Trevor Lawrence, of Bloomfields shoe shop, in Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, said: “Bury has a lot going for it now. The traditional town centre has plenty of independent traders offering the sort of personal service you just don't get online, for example, and with the Arc the town now caters very very well for the younger female shopper.”

Judith Blatch, one of the owners of Winch and Blatch department store, Sudbury's largest independent retailer, said: “If you come to a market town like Sudbury, which is thriving and bustling with lots of independent shops, you get a point of difference from the high streets in larger towns which can be multiples of each other and can become identikit towns.”

Sarah Wilson, the owner of Landers Bookshop in Long Melford and the secretary for the Long Melford Business Association, said: “In the long-term it is important to keep the diverse range of shops local. Also people get a good quality of service locally, particularly in our shop.”

Dawn Easter, economic development officer for Mid Suffolk District Council, is currently involved in a project to redevelop a 1960s area of Stowmarket, with the aim of bringing in new retailers, including more independent businesses.

She said: “Shopping locally is about the quality of service, the knowledge of goods and the fact that you can get good local produce. “There are some fantastic independent shops around and people are amazed with the things they can find on the high street.”

Terry Hunt, EADT editor, said: “It has been a difficult year, with the recession biting hard. Despite that, we have many brilliant local businesses who, through sheer hard work and entrepreneurialism, have been able to weather the storm. We should make sure that we support them all we can during the vitally important run-up to Christmas, to ensure that they continue to thrive in 2010.''

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